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The Events

Written by David Greig
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Jamie Lyons + Jessica Palipoli
Trailer by Peter Ruocco

Presented by Shotgun Players
May 4 – June 4, 2017

KQED “By the end of David Greig’s The Events under Susannah Martin’s superb direction… I wondered about just what kind of achievement I had witnessed…In the age of President Donald Trump and an ascendant and revolutionary right, here was a full-throated liberal plea for a different world and most definitely a different theater…Martin’s direction possesses an electric clarity that keeps us focused on what’s best in Greig’s script.” – John Wilkins

THE MERCURY NEWS “Director Susannah Martin’s staging is finely nuanced and intense… it’s a powerful exploration of the strange journeys that surviving unspeakable horror can take a thoughtful person on.” – Sam Hurwitt

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER “The play… under Susannah Martin’s assured direction….rolls out non-linearly with a wonderfully uncompromising Julia McNeal as a fiery and vulnerable Claire, and Caleb Cabrera as not only the youthful shooter but also a clergyperson, a psychotherapist, a politician, Claire’s lesbian lover and other characters that Claire seeks out in her desperate attempt at understanding… The Events feels unnervingly, dangerously, immediate.” – Jean Schiffman

Director’s Note

“I don’t want to understand what happened to me.
I know what happened to me.
I want to understand what happened to him.”

This play is a mystery; a mystery that our protagonist, Claire, spends the play trying to unravel: why? Why did The Boy do it? What or who shaped him? What motivated him? What box can we put him in so that we can stop this from ever happening again? How can we stamp this evil out?

Every time events like these happen, I ask the questions Claire asks. I find very few answers, feel hopeless, and stop my search. Another event happens, the same cycle repeats. These days, it is easy to wander the world in a state of perpetual grief, asking why. There is so much we don’t know about each other. Who shaped us? What motivates us and drives us to do the things we do? Even in – especially in – our “connected” world, is it possible to find any understanding of someone else?

In these strange times, I am grateful for a play like this – a play that is both salt in the wound and a balm to the soul. I am grateful that the play asks the questions that it asks us, and sends us, with Claire, on a search for clarity and understanding. It pushes us to embrace our darkness in order to find the light within the abyss. It invites us to sit with, even sing with, strangers and commune and communicate in the midst of our difference. The play provides no easy answers, no box to put people in. And yet, it shows that rebirth is possible even though evil is – and will always be – in the world.

I am eternally grateful to Shotgun for producing this play. I am grateful to Shotgun for providing a space – and many communities – for us to sit with and bear witness to the mystery.

Claire / Julia McNeal*
The Boy / Caleb Cabrera

*Member of AEA

Founding Artistic Director / Patrick Dooley
Assistant Director + Choir Captain / Brady Brophy-Hilton
Assistant Lighting Designer / Joey Postil
Assistant Music Director / Daniel Alley
Choreographer / Shaunna Vella
Costume Design / Alice Ruiz
Dramaturg + Production Assistant / Leigh Rondon-Davis
Fight Director / Dave Maier
Lighting Design / Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky
Master Electrician / Molly Stewart-Cohn
Music Coordinator / David Möschler
Music Director / Lisa Quoresimo
Production Assistant / Kieran Beccia
Scenic + Properties Design / Angrette McCloskey
Sound Design / Jake Rodriguez
Stage Manager / James McGregor
Technical Director / Chris Swartzell

That it all makes perfect

Written by Erin Bregman
Directed by Susannah Martin + Michelle Talgarow
Music by Matt Boehler

Graphics, Photos, & Trailer by Jon Fischer

Presented by 6NewPlays
March 30 – April 1, 2017

About The Show
What would it be like if you got to choose the life you would be born into? San Francisco playwright Erin Bregman begins with this question in her play THAT IT ALL MAKES PERFECT, performed at the A.C.T. Costume Shop in San Francisco from Thursday, March 30th though Saturday, April 1st.

Focusing on life’s simple and often overlooked moments, the play follows a single soul as she “moves from her first breath to her last, while trying to hold onto the beauty and power of life’s seemingly mundane and easily forgotten daily mementos.” Co-directed by Susannah Martin and Michelle Talgarow and produced by Maddie Gaw and 6NewPlays, this production will feature new music by San Francisco composer Matt Boehler (SFMC ’17) and includes a live chamber ensemble (flute, clarinet, french horn, and violin) that is integrated into all parts of the show.

Theater critic Alan Katz has praised the playwright for avoiding “gift-wrapping morals for ready consumption.” Like all of Bregman’s work, THAT IT ALL MAKES PERFECT forces the audience to draw their own conclusions and to stay active participants as they glean meaning from the diverse and intricate elements of the production. The result is a highly profound night of theater, despite the seemingly commonplace and routine nature of the “daily moments” conjured by the players in this unique play. The central question contemplated by the playwright– and the “soul” attempting to discover the best way to be human, can be put simply: “Without memory, what remains of your life after you’ve lived it?”

“Erin’s work always crackles with energy. In this play she finds sneaky ways to tackle life’s biggest questions, with playful language, curious form and head spinning theatricality. I can’t wait to see this one come to life.” —Jonathan Spector, Artistic Director, Just Theater

Sam Jackson
Nicolina Logan
Sarah Moser*
Marilet Martinez*
Raja Orr
Timothy Redmond*
Wiley Naman Strasser
Stev Täal
Elizabeth Talbert

*Member of AEA

Production Team
Costume Design / Megan La Fleur
Lighting Design / Darl Andrew Packard
Producer / Maddie Gaw
Properties Design / Devon LaBelle
Stage Manager / Shannon Stockwell

THAT IT ALL MAKES PERFECT was originally written during a Just Theater New Play Lab (dir: Joy Brooke Fairfield), and developed with The Brick, and the Bay Area Playwright’s Festival (Bay Area Playwright’s Foundation).


Written by Christopher Chen
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Pak Han
Trailer by Peter Ruocco

Presented by Shotgun Players
September 1, 2016 – January 21, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLECaught, under the finely calibrated direction of Susannah Martin, is an ingenious, beguiling play…Throughout this shape-shifting evening, Martin is hyper-attuned to each of the hundreds of micro-beats needed to make the audience first trust a character, then slowly, grain by grain, question that trust, then question that questioning, until it’s no longer just the character’s claims that seem specious but the very premise of the scene.” – Lily Janiak

BERKELEYSIDE “Shotgun Players’ production of local playwright Christopher Chen’s stimulating, creative and complex work, Caught, confounded and ultimately conquered the Ashby Stage audience in its opening night performance…Director Susannah Martin has been involved with Christopher Chen in the development of Caught since the play’s inception. Her intimacy with the project shows in her taut and agile direction.” – Emily S. Mendel

THE MERCURY NEWS “Director Susannah Martin handles the mutating narrative deftly as not just the story but the play itself becomes one radically different thing after another…It’s a labyrinthine play that pulls the floor out from under the viewer again and again, leaving the audience so unmoored that it’s impossible to trust that the show’s really over even when it’s clearly time to leave the theater.” – Sam Hurwitt

On display at the Ashby Stage
A pop-up art gallery installation created by Lin Bo and Xiong Gallery artists, Made in China is an exploration of perception and identity in the Chinese / American encounter. The exhibit looks at the ways in which globalized consumerism complicates the cultural exchange between East and West, playing its own role in human rights abuses as well as laying the groundwork for a new Orientalism.

CONTRIBUTING ORGANIZATIONS: Shotgun Players, The Xiong Gallery video and/or audio recording of this exhibit by any means whatsoever is prohibited.

Xiong Gallery Statement of Purpose · we give space and safe haven to artists of Asian descent unable unwilling undesiring of conventional channels we promote produce present projects that cannot be shown in museums and that infiltrate any and all mediums for broadcast purposes we defy disrupt dislodge the idea of gallery you will know our exhibitions when you are in them

Wang Min / El Beh
Bob Levy / Mick Mize
Joyce Anderson / Elissa Stebbins
Lin Bo / Jomar Tagatac*
Wang Min Alternate / Michelle Talgarow

Nina Ball,** Exhibit Designer – Setting
Wesley Cabral, Exhibit Designer – Video
Christopher Chen, Instigator + Writer
Christine Crook, Exhibit Designer – Textiles
Perry Fenton, Exhibition Assistant
Nikita Kadam*, Stage Manager
Devon LaBelle, Exhibit Designer – Mixed Media
Susannah Martin, Director of Collections + Interpretation
Ray Oppenheimer, Exhibit Designer – Illumination Specialist
Leigh Rondon-Davis, Curatorial + Exhibition Assistant
Matt Stines, Exhibit Designer – Noise Architect
Michelle Talgarow, Assistant Director of Collections + Interpretation

*Member of AEA
**Member of the United Scenic Artists Local 829

The Rules

Written by Dipika Guha
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Ken Levin

Presented by San Francisco Playhouse
June 22-July 16, 2016

TALKIN’ BROADWAY “The production is well worth the price of admission with terrific acting, splendid storytelling, clever dialogue, and excellent direction by Susannah Martin.” – Richard Connema

KQED “The first five minutes of Dipika Guha’s The Rules have the feel of a poorly written soap opera. But the show quickly becomes compelling, then gripping, then hypnotic. And so this poorly written soap opera ends up being the most beautiful and artful one you could ever imagine. SF Playhouse artistic director Bill English’s commitment to showcasing new plays and playwrights isn’t always successful, but it shouldn’t be. When a play like The Rules comes along, you realize how vital and important the company’s “Sand Box” series of new works is.” – John Wilkins

SPLASH MAGAZINES “Shining brightly under the direction of Susannah Martin… The Rules is characterized by the Sandbox Series group as a ‘fable about love and blindness and the promise of happy endings’ and ‘a ‘late’ coming of age story.’… the ending- as it draws attention to, explores and even begs questions about women’s friendships- is priceless.” – Ariel J. Smythe

From Artistic Director, Bill English
When we look back at the last century, since women achieved the right to the vote in 1920, we believe that huge progress has been made. In the 1960s, so much attention was placed on Women’s Liberation. And legislation has been enacted in decades since which protect women from discrimination and guarantee their rights to property and many other areas of life where men traditionally held all the power.  Woman have risen to the top of corporate ladders and universities and it seems likely we shall soon have the first ever female nominee for President.

We have good reason to be positive about the progress of women in our time. And yet, our society’s multigenerational conditioning that women are somehow inferior to men can still have a powerful effect on women today. This effect can afflict even well-educated women who otherwise know the fallacy of such subversive sexism. These conditionings are often unconscious and can manifest in small invisible ways, such as the unwritten rules of how women should behave, the rules of courtship, the rules of relating to other women. Like many of the ways racism expresses itself subtly, women can often find it difficult to counter the programming that has been passed down from their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. We often can’t feel the impact of this deep conditioning, until a moment of crisis. Then the cultivated virtues of ‘niceness’ are pushed aside and a more ancient archetypal wildness can emerge. Best Selling Author and Psychologist Dr. Clarissa Estes describes this wildness as a savage creativity or the instinctual ability to know what tool to use and when to use this. Without it, women, she argues are spiritually and often physically dead.

Ms. Guha, in order to spark an intense debate on these and other compelling issues of our time, throws three friends in the petri dish with the seemingly perfect man. He appears to be exactly what each of them respectively want from their ideal mate. How will these three friendships be impacted by the simultaneous romance of the same man? What rules will govern the courtships and the friends’ reactions? The playwright offers no clear answers, just an opportunity for us to wade into the complexities of modern courtship and the lives of these three female friends. Will we see ourselves reflected in the characters on the stage? Can we observe how the “rules” of engagement still trap women and men into ancient games of inequality and misogyny? In what ways do our complicity with the existing power structures intertwine with our resistance to it? What will it take to move forward as the curtain closes on this world and we leave the theatre to return to ours?

Ana / Sarah Moser*
Julia / Karen Offereins
Mehr / Amy Lizardo*
Valmont / Johnny Moreno*

*Member of AEA

Artistic Director / Bill English
Associate Artistic Director + Production Manager / Jordan Puckett
Costume Design / Ashley Holvick
Lighting Design / Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky
Production Assistant / Breanna Mack
Properties + Set Dressing / Devon LaBelle
Set Design / Angrette McCloskey
Sound Design / Matt Stines
Stage Manager / Katie Sumi
Technical Director / Tish Leung

Blockbuster Season

A New Show Created by Mugwumpin
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Pak Han
Trailer by Angelo Leotta

Presented by Mugwumpin
Co-Produced by Intersection for the Arts
September 25 – October 18, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE “It’s a fast, compact, testosterone-fueled and -foolish delight… Estlack and White rapidly segue from one character to another with smooth, quick definition and graceful, sometimes fierce physicality… you can’t miss the evocative humor and impact of the result.”— Robert Hurwitt

Artistic Director + Director Notes
CHRISTOPHER WHITE, Artistic Director: When poor Idris Elba, as Stacker Pentacost in the monsters-vs-robots movie Pacific Rim, addresses his troops and says “We have chosen not only to believe in ourselves but in each other,” I couldn’t help but feel for this excellent actor spouting Cheez Whiz. Part of what makes this statement so eye-rolling is that most movies depicting mass mayhem encourage us not to believe in ourselves, and certainly not in each other. We should believe, we are told, in The Hero. He (nearly always he) will deliver us to safety.

A few weeks ago, as the Valley Fire ripped through Lake County, a friend in Oakland noticed a man in line next to her looking visibly shaken. She asked if he was okay, and he described to her his harrowing escape, hours before, from a campsite in the fire’s path. Abandoning much of his gear, he waved down a passing pickup, tossed in his backpack, and jumped into this stranger’s vehicle. Who was driving that pickup truck? I’m guessing it wasn’t Stacker Pentacost. Was that person a hero? Or just a human seeing another human in distress? Probably nobody will make a movie about that story, but I still find it moving.

SUSANNAH MARTIN, director: When Chris, Joe and I first began working on this material at the end of 2013, we put together what we deemed The Playlist: a flip book, if you will, of moments and images, sounds and movement, and first stabs at the speeches and tropes that surround disasters and disaster movies.  What came out of that first workshop—and our first showing—was a collection of frenetic, anxious, funny, dark, and very masculine bits, punctuated by silences. Silences which evoked those moments, after the loudness of an earthquake, or a hurricane, or a fire, where the movement of the world has stopped and all you are left with is debris and fallout. And yet, there is still the possibility of something more—something different that can arise from that emptiness.

So much material has been generated and molded—has been shaped or has morphed—since those first few days that the three of us sat together in a cold room, in the midst of winter darkness, and pondered the disasters and blockbusters that have shaped our worldviews.  But the sound and the fury punctuated by silence remains—and I hope too, so does the possibility of something different arising…

Mitch in White / Joseph Estlack*
Mitch in Blue / Christopher Ward White
The Camera Operator / Melusina Gomez

*Member of AEA

Assistant Director / Michelle Talgarow
Assistant Set Design / Daniel Brickman
Assistant Stage Manager / Sienna Williams
Choreographer / Natalie Greene
Costume Design / Ashley Holvick
Lighting Design / Ray Oppenheimer
Properties Design / Devon LaBelle
Set Design / Sean Riley
Sound Design / Theodore J.H. Hulsker
Stage Manager / Katherine Bickford
Video Design / Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky

Our Town

Written by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Cheshire Isaacs
Trailer by Peter Ruocco

Presented by Shotgun Players
December 4, 2014 – January 25, 2015

SF WEEKLY “It’s possible that three-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Thorton Wilder and Bay Area theater director Susannah Martin share DNA….It’s hard to imagine Wilder, who began writing plays while a student at Berkeley High in 1915, doing anything but giving this cast a standing ovation.” – Lou Fancher

MY CULTURAL LANDSCAPE “Takes one’s breath away with its beauty, theatrical craft, earnestness, and simplicity.” – George Heymont

THEATER DOGS “If I could start every new year with a production of Our Town as engaging and as powerful as director Susannah Martin’s, I would gladly do so.” – Chad Jones

Tweet from Tappan Wilder: “Congrats to everyone @ShotgunPlayers on a beautiful production of OUR TOWN last night! Masterful work.”

Director’s Note
Our Town is an American Masterpiece.

Our Town is a quaint piece of sentimental claptrap.

Our Town is a reflection of how we live now.

Our Town is dated.

Our Town is a tone poem.

Our Town is a continuum.

Our Town is performed somewhere in the world every single day.

What does it mean to do Our Town in Berkeley, in 2014?  When people think of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play, they think quaint, they think Americana, they think old-fashioned, sentimental, romanticism.  It’s a show locked in time and place: turn-of-the-century New England, where everyone talks like the guy from the Pepperidge Farm commercials. But what if I were to tell you that Our Town is an Expressionist masterpiece and a deeply moving meditation on life, death, and the breadth and scope of the universe? Literally, somewhere in the world that is not here, a group of people are performing this play, right now – why?  What is this play telling us about the way we live and the way we die?  This is a question we have continued to ask as we went through the rehearsal process and the text continues to answer back.

A few things about our production: We approached the play as simply as possible –“no curtain, no scenery”– just as Wilder stated in his opening stage directions.  We’re asking the audience to do exactly what Wilder commanded with that simple stage direction. We’re asking you to imagine the town and connect to it in whatever way you can.

We cast this play with an extraordinary group of performers that reflect the world we live in right now. Sound and music played a large role in our process: there’s a lot of music literally written into the script.  And this music informed us greatly as we worked to discover our little town and how we come together as a community.

We hope, with these choices, that you’ll push your imagination beyond what is provided for you in scenery, and imagine what is provided in words, images, sounds, song, and sighs.  As Wilder’s nephew, Tappan Wilder, said, “This play is about memory and imagination. It is not a play about a small New England town… Our Town is not a New Hampshire chocolate milkshake. It is about how we remember the past.”

Ultimately, the thought I go back to, the one that informs me whenever I get lost, is that Our Town is, as Wilder said, about “the life of a village against the life of the stars…”

So tonight, enjoy watching and listening as this wonderful cast dives into this deceptively simple continuum; this tone poem of a timeless play.  Enjoy the journey.

—  Susannah Martin

Emily Webb / El Beh
Stage Manager / Madeline H.D. Brown*
Mrs. Soames + Ensemble / Sam Jackson
Doc Gibbs / Tim Kniffin*
Professor Willard + Ensemble / Christine Macomber
Howie Newsome + Ensemble / Wiley Naman Strasser
Mrs. Gibbs / Molly Noble*
Rebecca Gibbs + Ensemble / Karen Offereins
Constable Warren + Ensemble / Valerie Fachman
George Gibbs / Josh Schell
Mrs. Webb / Michelle Talgarow
Simon Stimson + Ensemble / Christopher Ward White
Joe Crowell, Sam Craig, + Ensemble / Eli Wirtschafter
Mr. Webb / Don Wood

*Member of AEA

Founding Artistic Director / Patrick Dooley
Assistant Directors / Katja Rivera + Beth Wilmurt
Costume Design / Christine Crook
Lighting Design / Heather Basarab
Master Electrician / Bill Brinkert
Music Directors + Arrangers / Abigail Nessen Bengson + Shaun Bengson
Production Assistant / Katherine Bickford
Properties Design / Devon LaBelle
Set Design / Nina Ball
Sound Design / Theodore J. H. Hulsker
Stage Manager + Acting Production Manager / Hanah Zahner-Isenberg*
Technical Director / Anne Kendall
Wardrobe / Ashley Rogers


A New Play about Race + Immigration
Written + Performed by Ariel Luckey

Directed by Susannah Martin
Original Score by Lila Sklar
Dramaturgy by Corey Fischer

Photos by Pak Han

Presented by La Pena Cultural Center
May 15-18, 2014

Amnesia was commissioned by La Peña Cultural Center with support from The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s 2012 Playwright Commissioning Award, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s 2013 Visibility Award and the Zellerbach Family Foundation’s 2014 Community Arts Fund.

“Ariel ignites Amnesia with riveting stories of immigration and memory, drawing connections that span generations and crisscross borders. A gripping, exciting play not to be missed…”
— Jeff Chang, Author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Director of Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University

Preview article from JWeekly.

Preview article from 3200 Stories.

More info at:

From the Dramaturge
I met Ariel Luckey a few days before Traveling Jewish Theatre, the company I co-founded in 1978, closed. He told me about the theatre piece he was about to start developing and asked if I’d help him dramaturgically. The Baal Shem Tov, the semi-legendary 17th century Jewish mystic is reported to have said as he died, “We go out one door to come in through another.” As the doors finally closed on TJT, Ariel’s invitation opened another one for me. It’s been deeply satisfying to follow, and, at times, to guide Ariel on a journey of discovery that took him to the Ukraine, Belarus, New York, Los Angeles, Arizona, the Sonoran Desert, to the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries and into his own expansive imagination. And, it’s been a great delight to see him transform what he found into music, movement, story – into theatre that invites us all to expand our sense of “us” and “them.”

Immigration is a central fact of the American Jewish experience. But it’s also a central fact of the American experience and, really, isn’t it a defining fact of human experience itself? Those of us who are only two or three generations removed from the literal act of immigration to America retain, perhaps, a keener sense of being shaped by it and are more able to make an empathic connection to today’s immigrants. Or not. All immigrants feel varying degrees of pressure to assimilate and with assimilation comes amnesia.

Amnesia is an act of radical remembering. Radical as in root. Remembering as in rejoining, reconnecting what has been falsely separated. Ariel’s story, like all stories worth telling, is an antidote to amnesia.

— Corey Fischer, Dramaturge

Lila Sklar / violin, vocals, mandolin
Dan Cantrell / accordion
eO / sound design + trumpet
Jessica Ivry / cello
Valentino / percussion

Costume Design / Christine Crook
Dialect Coach / Rebecca Castelli
Graphic Designer / Rich Black
Lighting Design / Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky
Scenic Painter + Fine Art Painter / Meeka Schmalle
Set Design / Steve Decker
Sound Designer / Peva Pardel
Stage Manager + Technical Director / Cory Sands
Voiceovers / Caitlyn Louchard + Daniel Petzold


Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman

Directed by Susannah Martin
Musical Direction by David Möschler

Photos by Pak Han

Presented by Shotgun Players
September 27 – November 11, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE “taut, close-up staging… captures much of the show’s capacity to shock, amuse, beguile and astonish.” – Robert Hurwitt

THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN “enchantingly alluring… smoothly executed… a twisted vaudeville expression of American history” – Ann Horrocks

BERKELEYSIDE.COM “director Susannah Martin has worked wonders with Assassins.” – Lance Knobel

EAST BAY EXPRESS “a superb rendition… inventive and wonderful… a tantalizing spectacle.” – Erika Milvy

SF WEEKLY “The production resonates with election-year narratives… But the show is also timeless as an achievement in musical theater; its storytelling is just as complex as Sondheim’s notoriously manic melodies.” – Lily Janiak

SF BAY GAURDIAN “a raucous, thoughtful, and intimate American fever dream.” – Robert Avila

Director’s Interview
In deciding to tackle this famous Sondheim musical, what were your initial inspirations for the production?

Dave Möschler was my initial inspiration for this production. He came to me in 2009, right after we had opened The Threepenny Opera, said “I have the next ‘Susannah and Dave’ show”, and presented me with Assassins. He instinctively felt that it would be right up my alley, and he was right. It’s not a traditional musical in terms of its characters or structure; it’s political and historical in its subject matter, it’s simultaneously disturbing and entertaining, and it’s eminently theatrical.

How would you describe the concept of the American promise? In what way do you consider this to be the driving force behind each of these assassins?

Because of the nature of our founding as a country (it was a revolution, after all), the tenets listed in our founding documents, and our long history of manifesting destiny, we are brought up as Americans with certain expectations of what we are owed. You could say that the “American Dream” is a set of expectations built on promises made to us – both literal promises in those founding documents and more amorphous, implied promises. I know we live in a time where many don’t see the American Dream as possible anymore. But we want to believe. We want it to be possible.

With the assassins, those implied promises go beyond the idea of, “If you work hard, you will succeed and thus, be happy.” The assassins live in a place of, “I am owed happiness, I am owed success, and I have the right to criticize, to judge if those things are not given to me. I have the right to take action and claim my happiness.”

This may sound extreme. But I don’t think the assassins are alone in that expectation, that we have a right to judge, to criticize, and to take action. For some of them, their frustration comes from a very acute place of poverty, desperation, and neglect. It comes from a place of being backed into a corner and expressing their helplessness, their powerlessness through one, great “historic” act. It is the only way they see out of the trap they find themselves in.

You chose to put together this production without an ensemble of additional characters, preferring instead to make the assassins “every man & woman” in addition to their roles as the presidential killers. What motivated this choice and how would you describe its importance to your audiences?

When I first read the script – and mind you, I read the published script from the original 1991 production – I was struck by how streamlined it was, how efficiently it told each of the assassins’ stories and hurtled us to its final moments. It was so beautifully focused that, though I saw these other characters in the script (bystanders, witnesses, Emma Goldman, David Herrold), they all seemed incidental to me. Or, if not incidental, they were there with the dramatic purpose of aiding, supporting, moving along each assassin’s story, and moving along our central story of watching this motley crew of lone wolves become a makeshift family. So when I read it, I just assumed that the show was performed without an ensemble. I assumed that the assassins would not only want to tell their own stories, but would also want to support the stories of their fellow assassins.

I also thought a lot about how the Bystanders reflect the everyman. They reflect – along with the balladeer – us. And yet, all of these assassins (except John Wilkes Booth) were not extraordinary or famous figures before they assassinated or attempted to assassinate the president. They were the everyman, just like us. Their complaints, frustrations, and arguments are not uncommon to any of us. Only their one act is. We try and forget about them – we try to dismiss them as crazy, or as an anomaly. But they are just as much a part of the fabric of what makes up this country as anyone else.

Does history repeat itself? What is the cycle of repetition embedded within our culture that continuously drives individuals to take this drastic step? Are we all just stuck in some kind of massive zoetrope, doomed to keep repeating the mistakes of the past?

Yes, I think history repeats itself. Can I say why I think we’re doomed to repeat it? I am not a historian, a sociologist, or a psychologist. So it’s all conjecture from me. I will say that circumstances aren’t changing enough to allow people a way out of frustration, desperation, misery, powerlessness, or hopelessness.

I will also say that I don’t think that time is linear. I think it’s a continuum with cycles. We jump back and forth in time in our own lives – I think the world does that, as well. This musical reflects that non-linear representation. It reflects that, though the reasons around an act may change, the act itself will not – and it will repeat and repeat and repeat.

What is it about assassination that captivates the imagination and why do you think it is particularly relevant right now?

What captures the imagination? I don’t know a single person that hasn’t felt frustrated about politics or government. And yet, do those people then pick up a gun and shoot the president? How do we get from powerlessness to shooting a leader?

Why is it relevant right now? The election. The amount of anger in the country right now. The very, very sad slew of violent, gun-related tragedies that have occurred in the U.S. in just the past few months. The incredible helplessness and powerlessness that people feel right now vis-a-vis the government. The strong desire to DO something about it and yet the strange inability to fully commit and take action in a way that feels definitive or that feels like it changes anything.

Assassins is, by no means, a historical document. It’s a piece of theatre. Thus, what it says about these nine presidential assassins is not always grounded in fact. What, thematically, it says about the country, the principles the country was founded on, and Americans’ expectations of what the nation, or the government, or the President “owes” us, is fascinating.

Giuseppe Zangara / Aleph Ayin
Sara Jane Moore + Dialect Coach / Rebecca Castelli*
John Hinckley / Danny Cozart
Sam Byck / Ryan Drummond*
Proprietor / Jeff Garrett
Charles Guiteau / Steven Hess
Hinkley Understudy / John Lewis
Squeaky Fromme / Cody Metzger
John Wilkes Booth / Galen Murphy-Hoffman*
Leon Czolgosz / Dan Saki
Balladeer + Oswald / Kevin Singer

*Member of AEA

Jeff Patterson / double bass
Andrew Maguire / drums + percussion
Derek Brooker / guitar + banjo + mandolin
Amar Khalsa / reed 1
Carolyn Walter / reed 2
Jeremy Carrillo / trombone
Rafa Postel / trumpet

Founding Artistic Director / Patrick Dooley
Assistant Director / Lynda Bachman
Assistant Lighting Designer + Research Assistant / Wolfgang Wachalovsky
Assistant Musical Director / Ben Malkevitch
Assistant Stage Manager / Katy Adcox
Choreographer / Erika Chong Shuch
Choreography Assistant / Janet Das
Company Reps / John Mercer + Katja Rivera
Costume Assistant / Ashley Rogers
Costume Designer / Christine Crook
Dramaturg / Dori Jacob
Follow Spot Operator / Jocelyn Edwards
Lighting Designer / Gabe Maxson
Properties Designer / Jackie Scott
Set Designer / Nina Ball
Sound Designer / Theodore J.H. Hulsker
Sound Technician + Install / Anton Hedman
Stage Manager / Hanah Zahner-Isenberg
Technical Director / Anne Kendall
Weapons Assistant + ASM / Lizz Guzman
Weapons Specialist + Fight Director / Dave Maier

A Lie of the Mind

Written by Sam Shepard
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Pak Han

Presented by Boxcar Theatre
March 9 – April 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY “…under Martin’s direction, this frenetic magnum opus plays as a series of taut, poignant individual moments, each of which feels at once impossible and urgently necessary.” – Lily Janiak

SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN “…the exceptionally sharp and powerful production currently up at Boxcar Theatre under direction of Susannah Martin… suggests 1985’s Lie may cut deeper than most…Martin’s intelligent staging…adds tangible weight and texture to the play’s radiant dialogue and engrossing characters, realized by one of the finest ensemble casts all year.” – Robert Avila

THEATRE STORM “…howlingly funny as well as dramatically terrifying. This is one hell of a night at the theatre!” – Charles Kruger, member BATCC

Director’s Note
Something identifies you with the one who leaves you and it is your common power to return: thus your greatest sorrow. Something separates you from the one who remains with you, and it is your common slavery to depart: thus your meagerest rejoicing.” – Cesar Vallejo

Months ago, I attempted to discern what this play was about by distilling its themes and motifs. My goal was to create a one-page document. It quickly turned to three. When I tried to eliminate any items on my list, I couldn’t do it. Everything was essential.

I have directed Shepard’s plays before and so I recognize the many repeated motifs that are strung throughout this script and every other script he has written. I have joked about how this play is the one in which Shepard took every idea, image, or theme that he was ever interested in and threw them in a blender.

But to say that is to do him a huge disservice. As we pored over this script we discovered that every single moment – every character – every relationship – every line – every image – is essential. The play captures life, love, family, addiction and denial in all its abstract and absurd glory. When we fight, when we love, when we try and communicate with each other – it is as hard – as funny – as sad – as bizarre – and as crossed-wired as the interactions in this play.

So what is this play about?

This is a play about love. Love in all its forms and variations: abusive, dysfunctional, chaotic, familial, co-dependent, addictive. This is a play about how hard it is to love and be loved. About the lies we tell ourselves and others in order to run towards and away from love. About how love – and the loss of love – alters and transforms our minds, bodies, and souls.

Meg / Carolyn Doyle*
Jake / Joe Estlack
Sally / Marissa Keltie
Mike / Tim Redmond
Lorraine / Katja Rivera*
Frankie / Josh Schell
Beth / Megan Trout
Baylor / Don Wood

*Member of AEA

Artistic Director / Nick Olivero
Assistant Director + Rehearsal Stage Manager / Lynda Bachman
Assistant Lighting Designer / Jacqueline Steager
Assistant Stage Manager / Colin Johnson
Costume Design / Christine Crook
Dialect Coach / Rebecca Castelli
Fight Choreographer / Durand Garcia
Lighting Design / Lucas Krech
Production Manager / Bonnie Robertson
Production Stage Manager / Mina Sohaa Smith
Properties + Set Dressing / Jessica Chaffin + Megan Hillard
Scenic Design / Steve Decker
Sound + Music / Theodore J.H. Hulsker
Technical Director / Bert van Aalsburg

Future Motive Power

Created by The Ensemble
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Pak Han

Presented by Mugwumpin at San Francisco’s Old Mint
January 6 – 29, 2012

Director’s Note
To make an “Artist Statement,” singular, for this piece seems absurd. Future Motive Power was made collaboratively by every single person you see listed in the program. The process was a conversation, from beginning to end, between me and each performer/maker and each designer/maker, and this beautiful, haunted, enthralling old space. Therefore, I didn’t hold the vision for this piece and insist that everyone follow me. We all held the vision for this piece, and discovered the path it needed to take, together. You, the audience, are the final, most vital, and compelling component. You are the best “last touch.”

Created and Performed by
Misti Boettiger
Joe Estlack
Natalie Greene
Rami Margron
Christopher W. White

Artistic Director / Christopher W. White
Assistant Director / Madeline H.D. Brown
Assistant Stage Manager / Elena Wagoner
Costume Design / Ashley Rogers
Documentation / Sarah Elovich
Production + Lighting Design / Wolfgang Wachalovsky
Properties Design + Painting / Shannon Walsh
Sound Consultant / Teddy Hulsker
Stage Manager / Jessie Wayburn